Messenger of love ― the maple leaf


Caroline Young, artwork and text

QFWF, © Source: The art of Caroline R. Young (2002)
the maple leaf

One beautiful autumn day, a young Tang scholar was strolling along just outside the palace walls, admiring the sparkling stream which seemed to magically flow gently in and out of the palace grounds.

Suddenly, he spied what appeared to be a perfectly formed maple leaf with writing on it.
He plucked it from the stream, and saw a poem inscribed in a delicate style, obviously written by one of the emperor’s concubines, lamenting her solitary existence behind the royal walls.

Moved by her beautiful prose, he selected his own perfectly formed maple leaf, and wrote a verse in reply to hers.
This, he floated on the surface of the water and watched as the stream transported his reply to the mysterious author on the other side of the palace wall.

A year or so later, the emperor released two thousand of his concubines with his heartfelt thanks for their service.

Our young Tang scholar was fortunate enough to have had a marriage already arranged with one of them: a woman he had never met or seen.

On his wedding night, he brought out the maple leaf that he had so cherished all this time and showed it to his new wife. He asked her if she recognized the handwriting and told her the story of finding the leaf and then asked if she could shed some light on the woman who had penned the poem.
Without another word, his bride reached into her garment or pocket and brought forth the corresponding maple leaf on which he had written his reply so many months earlier.

Destiny had finally realized the dream of two soul mates first brought together by the messenger of love, the maple leaf.

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As an adopted child of Chinese-American expatriates, I have always been intrigued by how the Chinese culture explained the mysteries of the universe.